everywhere throughout his kingdom: "The Lord God of heaven
has given me all the kingdoms of earth; and he has charged me to
build him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Now who is
there among his people - the Jews - who will go up to Jerusalem
and build this house for God?"
belonged to the family of David became the leader of the people
who returned to Jerusalem, but he ruled as a prince under the
command of King Cyrus; for the throne of David was not restored in
Cyrus had given
them the vessels of gold and of silver which Nebuchadnezzar had
stolen from the temple before he set it on fire, and they were
taking those vessels back to be used in the new temple. And Cyrus
had commanded their neighbors and friends to give them rich gifts
of gold and silver. So they were well laden for their journey.
In the ruins of
Jerusalem, the people found the place where the temple of the Lord
used to stand. They found the rock where the altar of the Lord had
been built. And here the priests and the Levites cleared away the
rubbish and gathered stones to build a new altar. Then they began
again to offer sacrifices to God each morning and each evening,
just as the law of Moses commanded them to do.
strangers living near Jerusalem who were not Jews. When they saw
the work that the Jews had commenced, they asked permission to
help in the building of the temple. But Zerubbabel and Jeshua, the
high priest, knew these men did not worship God in the right way,
and they would not accept help from them.
were Samaritans, the people who came to live in Israel after the
northern tribes were carried away into captivity. These were the
people who had a mixed religion - a mixture of the true religion
and idol worship. When their request was refused, they became
angry and sent letters back to the king of Persia, accusing the
Jews of falsehoods. Finally, they caused the building of the
temple to come to a standstill.
passed by, and the Jews were not allowed to finish the temple. So
they built comfortable homes for themselves and began to work in
the fields near Jerusalem.
caused the new king of Persia - another king named Darius - to be
friendly toward the Jews. But the Jews did not ask him to help
them. They did not try to finish the work which they had begun on
the temple. So God sent a prophet, named Haggai, to urge them to
get at the work again on the temple.
So Zerubbabel and
Jeshua began once more on the temple building. When they commenced
work, the Samaritans came down to see what they were doing. They
asked, "Who has given you order to do this?" And they
answered, "Cyrus, the king of Persia, commanded us to build
this house of God." The Samaritans did not believe their
words, and they wrote a letter to King Darius telling what the
Jews had said. But when Darius looked in the records that had been
kept during the rule of Cyrus, he found that Cyrus had indeed
commanded the Jews to rebuild the temple. So he sent word back to
the Samaritans, telling them not to hinder the Jews, but rather to
give them money to help hurry on the great work which Cyrus had
commanded them to do. After this, they ceased to hinder the Jews.
When the temple
was finally completed, the Jews held a great feast, and they
offered many sacrifices to the Lord. They rejoiced very much
because God had given them a friend in the new king of Persia.